The Lakers didn’t roll over without Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma and in the second-to-last game of a long road trip. They didn’t get caught looking ahead to their game against the Milwaukee Bucks. They deserve credit for that much, for fighting the whole way, even if they ultimately ended up losing to the Indiana Pacers anyway, 105-102.
To even get close, the Lakers needed everyone. The team got a boost from some nice rotations and adjustments from head coach Frank Vogel, who — among other things — moved Alex Caruso to the four in a four-guard lineup around Dwight Howard to push back against a 14-0 Pacers run in the third quarter. The Lakers got 53 points total from their bench tonight as the reserves looked to step up in Davis’ absence.
When the Pacers punched back and built another lead, again the Lakers answered with an 11-0 run of their own, punctuated by a three from Caruso to give L.A. a 95-91 lead. But later, four straight missed free throws in a row from Howard and LeBron James allowed the Pacers to tie things up, but those missed free throws were the main errors Howard and James made on the night, however, as both tied for team lead in scoring with 20 points apiece. They didn’t play perfect games, but they weren’t the biggest problem for L.A. on a night the team went 8-31 from behind the arc.
After James and Howard’s free throw misses, Indiana was finally able to hit a couple of shots and get just enough stops to go on a 10-2 run to close the game and escape with a narrow victory and drop Los Angeles to 24-4 overall. The game was the first time the Lakers have lost outside of Staples Center this year, and ended a 14-game road winning streak.
Still, it’s important to remember that this loss isn’t a catastrophe, as the Lakers are still tied with Milwaukee for the best record in the NBA, and every team has to lose sometimes. On the penultimate game of a long road trip and missing two key contributors is a realistic of a time as any. Now we just get to see if they can bounce back when they take on the Bucks to close out their current road trip on Thursday. We’ll see you there.